Psych Central

[On Saturdays my topic of focus is A Small, Good Thing, inspired by one of my favorite Raymond Carver stories.]

My career as a tutor takes me from one house to another, and at this time of year I’m availed of the special treat of seeing so many folks’ holiday decorations.

I’ve learned to always stop and take a moment to enjoy and admire and comment. People put so much work into decorating, and those ornaments and displays often carry deep meaning for their proud owners.

I make sure and comment specifically. I look for small details and extraordinary qualities, and I try and ask a question or make some remark that shows I’m really paying attention and interested, and that inspires them to reply. Comments such as Oh how pretty! are nice…but watch people’s faces light up when you say something more specific:

  •  Wow, what a lovely tree-topper! Look at the way it catches the light. Where did you find it? 
  • Walking up your path just now, all lit up with those cheerful blue and green bulbs, made me feel like I was walking through a wonderland!
  • Look at all those nutcrackers; like a little army! Where did you get them all?
I don’t do a lot of holiday decorating anymore; instead, I’ve decided to take on the role of Appreciator of the Decorating Efforts of Others.
Tis the season to notice the myriad of small, good things people are working so hard to show us!
[lobster trap, decorated for the holidays, Provincetown, MA]




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    Last reviewed: 3 Dec 2011

APA Reference
Cousins, L. (2011). The Easiest Way to Spread Holiday Cheer. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 24, 2014, from



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